New teachers wooed from industry with £150pw training deal

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The Independent Online

Disillusioned bankers, aerospace engineers and other industrialists are being paid £150 a week to retrain as teachers, under a radical new initiative to address teacher shortages.

The Government's Teacher Training Agency (TTA) is offering places on six-month "enhancement" courses for people working in industry to retrain as maths, science or modern languages teachers.

More than 100 people have taken salary cuts of £20,000 a year or more to sign up for the courses, designed to help resolve teacher shortages.

A Government inquiry into maths teaching last week revealed that secondary schools were short of 3,800 teachers.

Teacher training experts launched the programme because people taking degree courses in subjects allied to maths and science do not become qualified to teach their subjects in the way that they are presented inthe school curriculum.

"We don't need aerospace engineering teachers in schools yet," said Ralph Tabberer, chief executive of the TTA, "but it does not take much from that to acquire the skills to become a science teacher." Those on the six-month crash courses go on to a year's teacher training course. Before a full-time job, they can earn up to £13,000 a year training on the job.

The first enhancement courses - in maths and physics - started last month, with 40 recruits on each. In the language course, starting in May, adults who are fluent in one language are asked to train in a second.

"This is a trial," said Mr Tabberer, "and, if it is successful, we will put in a bid to Chancellor Gordon Brown's comprehensive spending review to expand it."